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Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Guinea junta pledges 2009 polls

Military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara
Capt Camara had said he would stay in power for two years

Guinea's military ruler has promised to hold elections in 2009 - a year earlier than previously announced, a senior French official has said.

"Captain [Moussa Dadis] Camara was very clear... in accepting the period of 12 months," said Alain Joyandet, after meeting the military ruler in Conakry.

Capt Camara also pledged not to stand in those polls, according to the French secretary of state for co-operation.

He seized power last month, hours after the death of President Lansana Conte.

Mr Joyandet is the most senior western official to meet the coup leaders, reports the AFP news agency.

"We are satisfied that in 2009 Guinea will have a new parliament and a new elected president," he said.

Aid continues

Some Western countries had called for elections within six months but Mr Joyandet said this was not realistic, as voter lists were not ready, according to Reuters news agency.

The envoy also said that France would continue with financial aid to the electoral commission, notably in the area of voter registration, which has stalled because of a lack of money.

Capt Camara previously said he would organise elections by the end of 2010 - when President Conte's term of office would have expired.

The African Union has suspended Guinea because of the military intervention, which has been strongly condemned by Western donors.

But many people in Guinea back the move, which follows many years of economic stagnation and political repression under Mr Conte.

But the African Union decided not to apply sanctions and said it would work closely with the coup plotters, to try to bring Guinea back to constitutionality.

Guinea's junta has said it will review mining operations in the country and renegotiate "defective" agreements with mining companies.

More than a third of the world's bauxite reserves are in Guinea, making it the second-largest producer internationally. It also has large reserves of gold, diamonds, iron and nickel.

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